Pinhole Photography Experiments.

After being in a workshop on pinhole photography (held at offo, in Aveiro), and getting a grasp of the development process, it was time to actually start to build a simple camera, as well as to start developing its pictures.

But the initial results were not quite what I expected in terms of sharpness.

Pinhole Photography 1
Photography taken at Aveiro, during the pinhole workshop. This one is quite sharp.

The Camera

One of the issues that I had during the improvised camera at the workshop was the difficulty in ensuring the photographic paper was on the proper position before closing the camera.

Therefore my build should have a simpler way to load the paper into it.

Pinhole camera 1
Finished and Closed pinhole camera. A tin can was chosen since its more robust than a cardboard shoe box. A Hard Disk Magnet is used as a shutter.

The solution found to ease the photographic paper loading into the camera was to go for a “dual box” design, where the paper is loaded into a “inner box” made with black cardboard. This made unnecessary to paint the inside of the tin box in black.

Pinhole Camera and inner box
Pinhole outer casing and inner box. Photographic paper is loaded into the back cardboard box, and then the cardboard box is loaded into the tin can.

The pinhole was made by puncturing the can frontal wall with a needle, and then removing the protrusion on the opposite side of the hole with sandpaper.

Pinhole detail
The pinhole is visible right above the heart symbol. Notice the magnet being used as a manual shutter.

The Development Process

The Standard 3 bath process was used. (Developer, Stop Bath, Fixer).
Unfortunately I was unable to find a dedicated safety light to use on my improvised darkroom. A LED RGB strip set to dim red was tested with good results.

The whole development process was done at ambient temperature at the recommended dilution values.

Supplies used. Unfortunately I was unable to obtain them locally.
Supplies used. Unfortunately I was unable to obtain them locally.
Development Process.
Development Process.


The Results so far


Taken at dusk, exposure time of 5 minutes.
Taken at dusk, exposure time of 5 minutes.
Exposure time tests. 25 and 35 seconds test. (D90 recomended 1/20 f22 @ iso 200)
35 and 25 seconds exposure time
(D90 recomended 1/20 f22 @ iso 200)
my_pinhole 03
30 seconds exposure time. (it overexposed)

Conclusions so far

Taking into account the results I had at the pinhole workshop, I expected sharper pictures when I attempted to replicate the whole process at home.

The main obvious reason may be the pin hole diameter.  It is not trivial to punch a very small hole into metal without special equipment. (at the workshop a plastic sheet was used and the pinhole was done with a hot needle).

Nothing that cant be solved with some rework on the camera chassis.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *